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Germany captures Cup

Germany’s Mario Goetze scores the winning goal in extra time of the World Cup Final in Rio De Janeiro on Sunday. Germany beat Argentina 1-0. Reuters photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) — Germany are champions of the world again after snatching victory against Argentina in the soccer showpiece with a superb extra-time goal from baby-faced Mario Goetze to lift the trophy for the first time since 1990.

Hatched from the agony of their recent near-misses, Germany’s triumph secured a fourth World Cup title — their first since the country was reunited 24 years ago — with a nail-biting 1-0 win in Sunday’s final at the sprawling Maracana.

The win, sealed by substitute Goetze’s brilliantly taken strike in the 113th minute, marked the first time a European country had won the sport’s greatest prize in the Americas, although this World Cup was ultimately a triumph for all.

“We have been together for 55 days but the work started 10 years ago with (former national team manager) Juergen Klinsmann,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “We did everything to experience this day. The team really deserved it. No one deserved it more than us.”

The Argentina team, their homeland still recovering from a crippling debt crisis, were brave in defeat and with a bit more luck might well have won the greatest prize in sport.

They squandered a string of chances but lost no admirers in a match that was full of end-to-end action and unrelenting tension over two hours.

“I am very proud. The boys played an extraordinary World Cup,” said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella. “Over and above the pain of a defeat, they can look each other in the eye, they can look in the mirror and know they gave their all for Argentina.”

Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball as the best player at the finals but it was scant consolation for missing out on the big prize.

“Bitterness, sadness. We deserved a bit more after the match we played,” said the Argentina captain. “We are hurting because we had chances. Even if they had more possession, we had the clearest chance.

“Today was the day (to win). We didn’t have luck, and we weren’t able to apply the finishing touch. We had clear chances but we couldn’t do it.”

Germany captain Philipp Lahm summed up an emotional night for himself and his triumphant team mates by saying: “It feels incredible. What we did for 120 minutes, the way we worked so hard, and the way the bench was backing us the whole time.

“You’ve got to have the best team. We got better in each match and didn’t let ourselves be distracted. It’s unbelievable to have won the World Cup,” he added.

One of Germany’s most talented and promising players, Goetze scored the winner, which will last a lifetime.

“It was not an easy year, not an easy tournament for me,” said the softly-spoken Goetze. “But I am just happy that the team won this title with me. I kept training with the team and every player here deserves it.”